The evolution of technology has brought us some great portable devices that tremendously help our workflow. Being an artist in this modern time has never been easier with all the technology surrounding us. With the increase of 2 in 1 convertible laptop, drawing, sketching, painting digitally is a breeze. Be it that you are an art student looking for a work laptop, an art enthusiast, or a photographer, technology can support and broaden your work. It can make you create a faster and more intuinue, and you can truly let your inspiration go wild. Students especially need a good machine that can support Adobe’s pack of applications and other high-performance software as Blender, Revit, etc.
Investing in a good laptop can be an investment in yourself! With the seamless transition of your imagination into the digital world, many creative opportunities can open up for you. Figuring out what you need is a process, but when you do that, your new tech companion’s choice will be easy. Without further ado, let’s go through the list of the best laptops for today’s artists.
Our Top Picks
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
“Stand out of the ordinary” is the slogan for this nifty machine. Surface Pro 7 stands out like a machine with tablet and laptop ability like no other. A beautiful and sturdy design with some powerful specifications backing it up, this is something that will last you for some time. It is paired with a detachable keyboard, and this machine is ideal for drawing with the Surface Pen that has over 4000 levels of pressure sensitivity. This particular model rocks 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD with an Intel Core i5 processor that will run any program you throw at it. We especially like the studio mode when you lower the kickstand, and you have an ideal drawing pad and full control over the display in such a nifty way.
- CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5
- RAM Memory: 8GB RAM
- Screen Size: 12.3” Touchscreen with pen input
- Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
- Ports: 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB-A, 3.5 mm headphone jack, MicroSDXC card reader
2. Asus ZenBook 15
If we don’t want to go in the super pricey devices that are more than 2k USD, we have this Zenbook by Asus that gets you a portable powerhouse for just over $1000. A 15.6-inch wide 4K Ultra HD monitor with a NanoEdge bezel display boasts an impressive 92 percent screen to body ratio. The ScreenPad tech by Asus is a great addition and will fasten any workflow. The interactive touchscreen will adapt to your needs, and it will give you the ability to do multiple things at the same time easier! The specifications are also a big selling point. The powerful processor paired with a dedicated Nvidia Graphics card, will make any program or game, and you won’t be afraid of lag or chugging of any kind.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U Quad-Core Processor
- RAM Memory: 16GB LPDDR3 RAM
- Screen Size: 15. 6-inch wide-view Full HD 4-way NanoEdge bezel display Glossy
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650 Max-Q discrete graphics 4 GB
- Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, 802.11ax
- Ports: HDMI, 1 x USB-C. 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, SD Card Reader, 3.5 mm headphone jack
3. Apple MacBook Air
Apple never designed a bad device. We think that we don’t have to present Apple as Apple too much, and their latest iteration of the MacBook Air is proof that they make some good machines. Incredibly thin and powerful, with it’s 4 million pixel display, it is ideal for photo editing and photographers. Mac is an operating system that just works, and especially if you pair with an iPhone, you will have a seamless transition for most of your editing needs, be it document or photograph, video, etc.
They also offer some truly advanced speakers for a laptop and all this paired with good performance from an Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of ram, you have a small powerhouse. The integrated graphics card can be a bit of a turn-off, but their Iris card is good as a high-end GPU from a year or two back. You will get less performance and weaker specifications for this money than a Windows machine, but Apple is Apple.
- CPU: 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GH
RAM Memory: 8GB
Screen Size: 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone technology
- Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics, Support for Thunderbolt 3–enabled external graphics processors (eGPUs)
- Storage: 256GB SSDOperating System: Apple Mac Catalina OS
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, BluetoothPorts: 2 x USB C
Check out which are the best cooling pads for Macbook Pro in our dedicated article.
4. Lenovo Flex 5
A Lenovo 2 in 1 powerhouse, with a medium price tag. The Flex 2 in 1 Laptop with a Full HD display and some impressive specs under the hood is a good option for any artist who needs a versatile machine. Be it that you want to draw with the INCLUDED PEN or edit some photos in Photoshop, the Flex 5 has you covered. The narrow bezel looks amazing, and their IPS display is a beauty to behold! They are also advertising it as a fashion statement, and we couldn’t agree more. It does look cool and stylish, and with the 360 degrees rotation ability, you will be able to use this machine in multiple modes. An all-around contender for a cheap price point that will satisfy your needs!
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor
- RAM Memory: 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Screen Size: 4-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
- Storage: 256 GB SSD Storage
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Ports: 1 x USB C, 2 x USB A, HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack
5. Dell Precision 3530 M3530
A traditional model in our small list, the Dell Precision 3530, is just a laptop compared to all the 2 1 convertibles. Still, this machine is a mobile workstation laptop first, and it is suited best for professionals who do video or image editing. We also suggest this one for music production! With a premium feel and a $1000 price point, it is mentioned more of a classic tech solution for your work needs.
AutoCAD is a breeze to use in this machine, and its four-cell battery boasts an impressive 17 hours life. The Dell Optimizer for precision is a built AI by Dell that adjusts your resources to get the most performance from your computer. It learns how you work and helps you multitask even faster. We also like the ExpressCharge feature that will get you to 80 percent of your battery in just under an hour! A super fast and reliable option!
- CPU: Intel Quad-Core i5-8400H
- RAM Memory: 16GB DDR4
- Screen Size:15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) Non-Touch Display
- Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P600 4GB Graphics
- Storage: 512GB SSD Storage
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Ports: 3 x USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x VGA, 1 x RJ-45, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Audio Combo Jack
6. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
A Chromebook model was suitable for artists! If you are unsure of changing to Chrome OS, this budget-friendly option can still kick a punch and be ideal for light image processing! Great to write and paint on with its built-in precise pen, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 will suffice, and we recommend it for someone who needs a quick drawing board and who wants to sketch!
Adobe has some great Android apps that you can run on this machine from the get-go, and as limited Chrome OS can be with the possibilities and apps in the Play Store, you can put your imagination to the test. This small machine rocks a Celeron processor capable of basic multitasking, and it has 32GB of fast eMMC flash storage. We love how much the battery can hold and one more thing for those photo enthusiasts! This device has two built-in cameras, and the back one is great for taking an occasional snap here and there!
- CPU: Intel Celeron Processor 3965Y
- RAM Memory: 4GB LPDDR3/Max 4GB
- Screen Size: 12.2″ FHD (1920 x 1200)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
- Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Operating System: Chrome OS
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Ports: 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x MINI HDMI, 1 x Audio Combo Jack
7. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo
The true powerhouse and the best feature-packed model you can get! The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo boats a big 4K display with the tiniest bezel you have even seen and their innovative ScreenPad plus the tech that looks all like the future! The latest i7 Intel Core processors with a dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX card will run any program. Exclusive ErgoLift design for typing. Most importantly, the double screen feature looks amazing, and it is really handy! With an included stylus, if you have the money for a machine over $2000, you should get this beauty. The model we have here is the 15.6 inch, but even the 14-inch FHD is a laptop miracle! Truly an amazing feature-packed machine!
- CPU: Intel Core i7 9750H Quad-Core Processor
- RAM Memory: 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Screen Size: 15.6 inches UHD OLD 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- Storage: 1TB SSDOperating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, BluetoothPorts: 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Audio Combo Jack
Things To Consider Before Getting a Laptop
- For what exactly will you need the device (photography editing, drawing, video editing, music production, etc.)
- What is your budget, and what can you get for your money
- Which brand do you purchase?
- What type of screen will you get?
- What graphics chip or card will you want
- How portable do you want it to be
- How powerful do you want it to be
- The battery life of the device
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Laptop for Artist
You need to look for a machine that will fit your needs as an artist. Your needs will change depending on what work exactly do you want to do! If you are an animator or a digital artist, you will want a laptop that has a precise touchscreen with vivid and exact colors. If you are a photographer and you don’t want your device for drawing, you can get a laptop without a touchscreen, maybe. Video editing will or 3D animation will require a lot of storage and working memory. Plan and think about your needs and, of course, your budget! This will be an important decision ahead! Each feature costs and it can add up in the end if you want a truly feature-packed machine.
The better the budget, the better the device. To get the most bang for your back, you may look for a range of 400 to 500 USD. Still, you can get a nice working machine for more than $300. Especially with the 2 1 laptop, you can get a nice drawing and sketch device on the go. Samsung has some nifty machines with great precise touchscreens. Going over the $1000 range, or even $2000 will get you a machine that will last you for at least 4 or 5 years.
Lenovo is a top contender here, and their laptops are full packet with features that can help an artist out. Asus with their Zenbook lines are also amazing to work with, and all their machines work flawlessly in our tests. Acer has some budget options that we like, but you can also trust them. With these, you can’t go wrong! The devices from HP and their Pavilion line are also really good!
Display Quality and Size
A touch screen for drawers and animators is a must. A convertible laptop is ideal as you can draw, sketch, and edit on the go. We do think that you need to get a bigger screen than a 13 inch one. If you want to work and edit, you need to see well. Smaller devices are okay for quick jots or note-taking, maybe some basic editing, but the size can hinder you, so choose carefully. And HD IPS would be ideal, and a FULL HD (1920 x 1080) resolution is also advisable. The display quality can also be crucial! If you are buying a budget laptop, you need to make sure that the display is good enough for graphics work! You don’t want to end up with a machine that doesn’t show the colors correctly or has enough contrast. A touch screen needs to be accurate and fluid, so try to read up on how a display performs before buying a device.
Graphics card or chip
A dedicated graphic card is something that you need. Be it that you want to edit photos via Photoshop or use Adobe Illustrator for vectors. Your machine needs to follow your workflow and your needs! Intel’s integrated card can probably suffice for some basic editing needs, but anything heavier will require a dedicated GPU. In our experience, Nvidia has better video cards, but an AMD one will also fulfill your needs! When choosing something like this, which can impact how some programs perform, we recommend researching and seeing how that card performs under heavy load or with a certain application.
Maybe you need to work on the go and live an active lifestyle that includes lots of traveling!
In this case, we recommend a convertible device with a 360x rotation ability that can transform from a tablet into a laptop and vice versa. With a device like this, you’ve got more than one base covered.
CPU and Power
You want a machine that won’t lag or freeze under a heavy load of programs and apps. So you want to get a machine that at least has an i3 Intel Core processor. More cores mean more speed. Still, even if you get a more budget machine, you will be able to run most programs, albeit not with five projects open, but you should have basic functionality. Think ahead about your storage, too; you won’t get a small SSD if you plan on doing photography and keeping your photos in the RAW file type for too long. External hard drives are also a thing, so you may not worry too much about it! Still, it’s better to have it all from the get-go!
You want to have your machine ready on the go! With today’s standards, you should easily get a machine that has eight-plus hours of battery easily. So don’t go for less than that. Ideally, you would get something that has ten-plus hours on a full charge. You need to be aware that heavy data programs will use up your battery faster!
What is the Best Operating System for an Artist?
Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, or maybe a Linux machine? Depending on if you are a designer, producer, writer, you need to think ahead about which operating system is best suited for you. You need to examine and see how and in what programs do you want to work. There is some OS exclusive software on both sides, but we think the Mac has a tad bit more graphic design programs just for Apple’s systems. The Adobe Creative Suite is an industry-standard and a starting point for any artist. Even if you start from free alternatives, we think that you eventually end up in their programs package.
Generally, it trickles down to personal preference, as Windows machines are more open than the Mac OS. Still, there are more players in the water, with the addition of the more and more popular Chrome OS and Linux. Chrome OS will easily run any web-based application, but you will also have access to the array of Android apps! Where some of them truly give you the ability to express yourself. Linux also has a lot of free options, but some things may not work from the box, and if you are not the tinkering type, it can get too finicky at moments. More power to you if you want to explore the world of Linux distros!
Do I Need a High-End Computer to Do Art?
Please note that even if you can’t dish out the money for an Adobe subscription, you can find great applications that mimic these expensive programs that will run even on budget-friendly machines. Yes, more money will get you a bigger bang for your buck, but your tech should not limit creativity, and people can do amazing things when sometimes limited!
Now that you read everything, you can make a knowledgeable choice easily!
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